Saturday, May 2, 2009


Tomorrow, with our friends Brian and Mary from down the street, we set up a stall at the Irvine City College swap meet. We will be one of dozens of similar stalls, where people will be trying to unload their unwanted stuff--and make a little money to boot. No matter that the money we make pales in comparison to the money we actually spent acquiring this stuff, it will be good to be rid of as much of it as possible.

Our particular stuff for this event is the result of the remodel on our Laguna cottage, concluded a couple of months ago. In anticipation of the work to be done on the house, we packed everything away into boxes, some to keep, some to be disposed of. The latter now need to be loaded into the back of the car, tonight, in preparation for an early start in the morning. It's amazing, just how much of it there is--things we must at one time have considered indispensable to our lives, but now look like so much junk. We hope that others, upon seeing them, will find them as indispensable as we apparently once did.

There's an ebb and flow to things, I suppose, before they reach the junk yard. They have a life of their own, from their origin in some manufacturer's factory or workshop to the shelf at the shop where they are first sold, to the homes of first-users and perhaps, if they're lucky, on to other homes of second- and third-users... We get attached to them for a variety of reasons, ranging from aesthetic to sentimental to simply utilitarian; but there comes a time when we get unattached and want to dump them from our lives.

I like the feeling of disposing things more than that of acquiring them. Perhaps I'm at that stage of my life. Disencumbering feels like a good and appropriate thing to do. It's a small gesture of freedom, a recognition that I need less than I thought I did to get by. We will miss our sitting group, this Sunday, then, but will be engaged in an occupation that has some Buddhist implications. It would be more Buddhist, of course, if we were simply giving it all away... But then, we might need the money to buy some more good stuff.


mandt said...

I'm laughing! So true.....

Nancy Youdelman said...

Hello Peter,
You are probably at the sale right now or on your way. Serious collectors arrive early. I used to have yard sales and of course loved to go them.

My artwork is all about people's "stuff", things that were once very important, vintage correspondence, photographs, sewing items, party dresses. I buy these things on ebay (saves lots of time and what a selection!) from people who usually don't know who the original owner was (most likely no longer living).

This stuff is just stuff but for some it carries a charge. I transform it into artwork.

But when it becomes clutter, it is better to travel light.

TJ said...

I had such fun reading this, Peter. Andy Rooney would be jealous!